Shrimp and Chicken Bánh Xèo
(Vietnamese Sizzling Rice Crepes)
Crispy, chewy, and savoury — this is a meal everyone should know.
Bánh xèo, also known as "baan say-ow" sizzling rice crepes, is a popular dish in southern Vietnam. The crepes are generally filled with pork, shrimp, straw mushrooms, and bean sprouts, which provide a light crunch. They are made with rice batter that has been coloured yellow by turmeric. For serving they are cut with scissors, wrapped in lettuce leaves, and dipped into nuoc mam, a sauce made by mixing fish sauce, chilies, lime, garlic, and sugar, and best eaten right from the sizzling pan.
In Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) you will find more than a dozen variations on the crepe. This is our version and variation on the crepe, but feel free to play around with the mix-ins and fillings. Be patient and adjust as you go! It’s all about the technique for forming these crispy crepes and it’ll take some practice.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
CREPES AND ASSEMBLY
200 g extra-large shrimp, peeled, deveined, halved crosswise
500 g chicken breasts, cut into strips
300 g bean-sprouts
1 medium sized yellow or red onion, thinly sliced
1 large head of fresh tender lettuce, separate leaves
1 large handful of cilantro leaves with tender stems
10 Tbsp vegetable oil
Whisk rice flour, corn starch and turmeric in a medium bowl to combine. Whisk in 300 ml of warm water as this will help dissolve the rice flour a bit easier, followed by 100 ml of coconut milk. Let your batter sit, uncovered, until the consistency thickens to half-and-half (it’ll be a bit gritty from the flour) 30-45 minutes. If the batter is too thick, whisk in about 1 tablespoon of water until you get the right consistency.
Pro Tip: The batter can be made 2 days ahead. Just cover and chill. When using just bring to room temperature and whisk well before using.
Another tip for more crispy crepes is to chill your batter in the fridge before using. This is not necessary.
Finely chop hot chilis and garlic. (Depending on how hot your chilis are and your own preference for heat, using 1 or 2 chilis is a good starting point.
In a small bowl add warm water and sugar. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in fish sauce, lime juice (or vinegar), and your chilis and garlic. From here on taste and add more of any of the components as needed until sauce taste balanced and to your liking— you don’t want it biter or too tart.
Pro Tip: Sauce can be stored up to 3 months in a fridge when stored tightly covered.
CREPES AND ASSEMBLY
Arrange all components, ingredients and set aside for cooking and serving.
Arrange lettuce and herbs onto plates with the sauce in small bowls for dipping. Set aside so that they’re ready to serve as soon as the crepes are done.
Stir your batter vigorously with a ladle so that there’s no drag or sludge. As you go measure out the right amount of batter that’ll fit your pan. Just add a ladle of batter and carefully swirl your skillet so a thin layer of batter coats the entire pan. It will sizzle and sputter. If needed, quickly add more batter to fill in empty spots.
Pro tip: you’re not aiming for a thick pancake, rather a thin layer. Pour the batter on the outside of the pan and let the batter slide into the middle of the pan by quickly swirling the pan.
You also want the pan to be hot before you poor the batter in. You want it crispy!
Once you have a pancake, turn the heat to medium. Place your bean-sprouts on 1 side of the pan, and cover with a lid. Cook the bean-sprouts and batter on top by steaming it for about 1 minute. Uncover the pancake, turn the heat up again but not too high. Drizzle a little oil on the sides around the crepe’s rim to enhance crisping. Cook until the edges turn golden brown (you will recognize this when the edges lift off the pan a bit). Depending on your pan and the heat this’ll take around 3 minutes.
Slide a spatula under one side and fold crepe over (not a big deal if it’s not symmetric or if it breaks in the center.
Serve crepes with lettuce, herbs and dipping sauce alongside. Fold everything into a bundle, dip into sauce, and enjoy!